Today is a very sad day. My old cat – a beautiful ginger angel called Dandelion – died. It was sudden, or rather it wasn’t expected. He was over 17 but a gentle giant with a huge heart and still totally in charge of the house and gardens. Only last week he saw off a neighbours cat with fierce yowls and a commanding presence. He died today after only 24 hours of seeming poorly. He had rarely been off the land, always protecting his family and his patch and perhaps twice taking the trip to Penzance to the vet where he behaved with impeccable manners as always. He was the sort of cat who would open his mouth for pills if they were deemed necessary. He never used a litter tray in his life preferring to go outside whatever the weather and however he might be feeling.
He arrived here 15 years ago on a stormy night in November. Blue was a puppy and she sounded the alarm – CAT IN DISTRESS!!! Outside high in the branches of a hawthorn tree was perched a ginger cat meowing for help. Once inside the house he quickly settled down to eat and sleep and never left again.
Many people have known and loved him, seen him for the special soul that he was and come to pay homage. One friend named him the Dalai De Mandolin. Like all beloved creatures he had many secret names, whispered into his soft red fur as he purred his pleasure and gave back love.
He never scratched or hurt a human. He could attack an invading dog or cat but when two new kittens joined the household 12 years ago he allowed himself one soft growl and then took them under his wing. He had always been a rabbit hunter and with two more mouths to feed and young ones to initiate, his daily kills trebled in number. We had to fit new doors to the porch to avoid waking every morning to more gory gifts.
Today he lay in peaceful calm and took his last journey asking only for our companionship. He didn’t need help – he knew what to do and a couple of hours after padding into a dark and cool clothes cupboard, he was gone.
A writer called Derek Tangye used to live near my house in Cornwall and he once told me that when big changes are happening in your life, sometimes your animals chose not to come with you along the new road. He believed that they know when is the time to arrive and when to leave. and if we trust them and don’t get in their way, they will follow their instincts quite naturally.
So here I am, in my empty zen house, preparing to move my life south to Catalunya, and saying goodbye and thank you to a great lion of a cat whose spirit is now roaming free. Who knows where he will turn up next or who he will be? Dandelion – I will be looking out for you.